How do they define "underpaid"? Well, in this case, the legislation is looking at full-time employees who wind up Medi-Cal, which is California's version of Medicaid. Cashiers at Wal-Mart typically make between $7.41 - $10.51 an hour, making their yearly salary, even at full-time, as low as $15,412.80, or just about poverty line for a family of two. Wal-Mart isn't alone, either: our data showed that the company paid about 3 percent below market, which means that many of their competitors are paying similarly low wages, and potentially taxing the system, as well.
The report's authors note:
"The most recent decade proved to be a 'lost decade' for most working families -- the average family’s income is lower today than at any point in the last ten years. Income inequality is more extreme today than at any point since before the Great Depression, with the top 1 percent of income earners receiving 93 percent of income gains in the recovery. In the third quarter of 2012, corporate profits reached $1.75 trillion, their greatest share of GDP in history. During that same quarter, workers' wages fell to their lowest share of GDP on record."
The U.S. Committee of Education and the Workforce feel that labor policy can address some of these inequities, for example, by raising the minimum wage and strengthening equal pay laws. Whether or not Congress will enact labor law reform remains to be seen, but in the meantime, at least, one state seems to be taking their recommendations seriously.
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